Sports

Masked-man Irving leads Celtics to 13th win in a row

Masked-man Irving leads Celtics to 13th win in a row

The Celtics enter Tuesday's game against the Nets riding a 12-game winning streak. "It's the difference in having something over your face". It'll mark the third time in his career that Irving will be required to play with a protective mask - he did it for two extended stints during his time with the Cavs - so it's not like this is uncharted waters for the 25-year-old, even if it's not the most comfortable thing in the world.

Irving returned to the Celtics wearing the contraption to protect a small facial fracture under his right eye, and with varying degrees of irritation, he pulled it off last night during every break in play. It's nearly like having somewhat foggy blinders on. When he missed a layup while being fouled on a late first-half drive, Irving angrily pried it off his face.

"When I take off the mask, I can see everything".

Rookie Jayson Tatum added 19 points and Jaylen Brown chipped in 14 for the Celtics, who are on their first 13-game winning streak since winning 14 straight from November 22 to December 22, 2010.

"For us, it's another game for us to continuously get better and a test for us to really stay together and show our resilience and show what we're really made of", he said. "Just finding his way and doing what he does, making big plays for us, coming through and sealing the game".

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"I don't worry about him getting a rhythm too much", Celtics coach Brad Stevens said.

In 13 starts this season, the four-time NBA All-Star is now averaging 20.3 points, 5.2 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game in roughly 31 minutes of action per contest.

Joe Harris scored 19 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Nets, who are without leading scorer D'Angelo Russell because of a bruised left knee. Even though DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined to score almost half of the Raptors points, Al Horford, 21 points, led a balanced attack that featured five Celtics scoring in double figures. LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 32 points in his hometown and the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Dallas Mavericks 97-91 in Dallas.

The Spurs, still playing without star French guard Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, improved to 9-5.

The Mavs, who dropped to 2-13, shot below 35 percent for most of the game and finished just 10-of-34 from beyond the three-point arc.